In this series of articles, we have examined the characterizer traits of a true follower of Jesus Christ. Thus far, we have looked at three such traits, an orthodox view of the person of Jesus Christ, an ongoing forsaking and confession of sin, and a lifestyle of obedience to the Word of God. The next character trait that depicts a true believer’s life is an ongoing sacrificial love for other Christians (1 John 2:7-11). Genuinely saved individuals will possess an ongoing love for the church of Jesus Christ. That is, saved people will innately possess a love for other Christians, and will seek to be with them and to care for them (3:17).
A true follower of Jesus Christ will not hate his fellow Christian. What did the Apostle John mean by ‘hates his brother’? The word ‘hate’ (vss. 9, 11; 3:17) is derived from a Greek word which means to hate, abhor, despise, disregard, or be indifferent to. The point is an authentic Christian will not despise, disregard, or be indifferent to other Christians (1 John 2:19). For example, the Lord Jesus declared that you cannot have two masters, for you will love one and hate (despise, disregard, be indifferent to) the other (Luke 16:13). Another example is when Jesus stated that before one could be his disciple they must hate (disregard) their family in deference to Him (Luke 14:26). In each passage, the word ‘hate’ carries the idea of choice. You will choose one over the other. A truly redeemed individual will not habitually disregard or be indifferent to their brothers and sisters in Christ, the church.
In our society, people profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, yet they do not sacrificially love the brethren, which is the church. Such indifference or disregard for the church proves they do not possess genuine saving faith. In addition, it is not uncommon to hear people make the statement that they love Jesus but do not want anything to do with the church. Such sentiment proves that regardless of their adamant profession of faith, such people are still in darkness, they are lost. Later John wrote, “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14).
Genuinely evaluate yourself? How do you measure up to these scriptural truths? Do you love the church of Jesus Christ? Are you committed to caring for and being with other believers in a local church?